The Regulation establishing the European Fundamental Human Rights Agency ("the Agency") was approved in its final form (by the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers) on 15 February 2007. The Agency will take up its work in Vienna on 1 March 2007.
The Agency is designed to replace the more narrowly focused European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and it is hoped that it will become an expert advisory centre on human rights and will continue and expand the previous activities of the European Monitoring Centre.
The Agency shall provide expert advice to the European Institutions and Member States on matters relating to fundamental human rights and freedoms. It will also have an information-gathering role and shall will be staffed to allow it to analyse human rights information on a statistical level. Upon request, the Agency will prepare formal expert opinions on matters relating to fundamental human rights for the European Institutions and Member States. However, the Agency will not adjudicate on specific cases but will merely serve in an advisory capacity.
The Agency will not tackle issues involving police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters. In addition, it will also not monitor the state of fundamental rights in individual EU Member States. The Council of Europe is to remain as the body with primary responsibility for human rights within the Union and the Regulation makes clear that the Agency should avoid overlaps with the Council.